The Persona games began life as a spin-off of the Megami Tensei franchise, and has since become a well-known JRPG series with spin-off titles of its own to boot. In April, we’ll be seeing the release of the fifth main entry, Persona 5, which seems to be a worthy addition to the series and an amazing game in its own right, based on the reviews that are pouring in. If you’ve any curiosity in the game - which is arriving nearly ten years after Persona 4 - you might want to know these six things about it:
Although mentioned in the introduction, I feel that this is something that deserves to be made a point of its own. After all, the reviews Persona 5 is getting aren’t just good - they’re great. For example, The Verge called it “a cult classic shined to perfection” in its review heading, while Metro called it a “game of the year contender”; it’s the kind of praise that makes you take notice of a game, and wraps it in a special kind of aura.
For those who have more familiarity with the prior series entries, the strong reviews will please them with their impression of Persona 5 being not just great, but a wonderful successor to Persona 4 and an improvement in some areas. A couple of examples: Lots of things to do in the game’s map compared to Persona 3 and 4’s respective settings (according to IGN), and the fantastic and unique hand-crafted dungeons (which we’ll get into a bit more later).
Watch the opening of Persona 5 and you’ll probably think: this is one really stylish-looking game. What’s even better is that the sense of style extends into the game itself, not just for the environments and combat but the interface and even the menus. Seriously, they’re probably the most attractive video game menus I’ve ever seen. Rather than straightforward or relatively rank-and-file looking text fonts and boxes, Persona 5 gives them a colourful comic book-like vibe and design, imbued with a sense of energy and life (the background art even changes/moves when selecting an option)
Those aspects are present outside of menus as well, while stealth kills add a cool-looking opener to battles. The real-world parts of the game are understandably offer more grounded visuals compared to the menus and dungeon environments, but it’s hard to label their appearance as mundane, because they’re not.
While Persona 3 and 4 had randomized dungeons, the majority of Persona 5’s offerings are hand-crafted creations, which means that each gets the attention and care of the developers in their construction. Each dungeon - or palace, as they’re called in the game - are “the cognition of an individual with desire strong enough to twist the location in reality where its host expresses his or her innermost desire”, as the wikia describes them.
This makes for some interesting and differing visual themes, especially given that they each represent a sin, like Lust or Greed, in addition to the character they were created by. The palace representing Lust, for instance, has a heavy pinkish/purplish saturation and sexy mannequin bodies lined up and - due to the creator’s mentality - takes the form of a castle. Exploring these palaces both sound and look fun, and the visual story-telling element in them seems pretty strong too.
There’s a lot more to Persona 5 than just palaces… like school, for example. As The Guardian puts it,: “Persona 5 delivers a holistic simulation of urban, teenage life”. So your character has to attend class, take exams and can spend the rest of your time engaging in various activities. This includes working on a current case, improving relationships with others, do part time jobs or just chill at a bath.
Aside from offering plenty of distractions and breaks from the RPG side of things, these activities help with your stats too, like Charm and Knowledge. New abilities can even be gained from meeting side characters, so the social simulation side maintains a connection with the rest of the game. And the world that houses all these, too, seems to be a highlight of its own, offering a detailed Tokyo with subway stations, ramen restautants and back streets for you to explore.
Oh man, the music. I’ll admit that I’m currently not that hooked on Persona 5’s tracks, but when I first heard the introductory music to “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” I started wondering how video game music could be this good and funky (turns out there are elements of acid jazz in them). Aside from sounding catchy in general, the soundtrack really adds to the stylish feel of the game and gels well with its aesthetics.
That’s unfortunately about all I can manage to say about it, so I’ll let the tracks do the rest of the “talking”.
Persona 5 is one of those games which you probably don’t want to be spoiled. Atlus thinks so too, so they’ve disabled the PS4’s share button. “This being a Japanese title with solely a single-playthrough story means Japan is very wary about it,” an Atlus representative told Polygon recently. “Sharing is currently blocked through the native PS4 UI.” The same will apply to the rest of the world as well.
This doesn’t just prevent players from sharing screenshots on social media, but from taking them in the first place. It’s nice that Atlus are minimizing the risk of spoilers for players, but this move also seems quite restrictive. Well, at least there's still the option to capture moments from the game with phones.